United States Ambassador to China

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Ambassador of the United States to the People's Republic of China
US Department of State official seal.svg
Seal of the United States Department of State
Terry Branstad by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Terry Branstad

since May 24, 2017 [1]
Residence Beijing
Nominator The President of the United States
Inaugural holder Leonard Woodcock
Formation March 1, 1979
Website U.S. Embassy - Beijing

The United States Ambassador to China (simplified Chinese: 美国驻华大使; traditional Chinese: 使; pinyin: Měiguó Zhùhuá dàshǐ) is the chief American diplomat to People's Republic of China (PRC). The United States has sent diplomatic representatives to China since 1844, when Caleb Cushing, as Commissioner, negotiated the Treaty of Wanghia. Commissioners represented the United States in China from 1844 to 1857. Until 1898, the Qing Empire did not have a system in place for the Emperor to accept the Letters of Credence of foreign representatives. From 1858 to 1935, the U.S. representative in China was formally Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to China. The American legation in Nanjing was upgraded to an Embassy in 1935 and the Envoy was promoted to Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

During the republican era, the U.S. recognized the Beiyang Government in Beijing from 1912 to 1928 and the Nationalist Government in Nanjing (and Chongqing from 1937 to 1945) from 1928 onwards. After the Communist People's Republic of China was established in mainland China in 1949 and the Kuomintang moved the Republic of China government from Nanjing to Taipei, Taiwan, the U.S. continued to recognize the Republic of China as the legitimate Chinese government and maintained its embassy in Taiwan. However, in 1973, the U.S. established a Liaison Office in Beijing to represent its interests in mainland China. In 1976, the Chief of the Liaison Office was promoted to the rank of Ambassador. In December 1978, the U.S. severed official relations with the Republic of China and in January 1979, established formal relations with the People's Republic of China. The U.S. Liaison Office in Beijing was upgraded to an embassy on March 1, 1979. The American Institute in Taiwan was established in 1979 to serve as the unofficial U.S. representative to Taiwan, with the director of its Taipei Office taking the role of a de facto ambassador. Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. served as U.S. Ambassador to China from 2009 until April 30, 2011. On March 7, 2011, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Commerce Secretary Gary Locke as Huntsman's replacement. Locke's nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 27, 2011 by unanimous consent.

On December 18, 2013, Politico reported that the White House had selected long-time U.S. Senator Max Sieben Baucus from Montana to be the next Ambassador.[2] On February 6, 2014, the Senate voted and confirmed Max Baucus to be Ambassador to the People's Republic of China.

On December 8, 2016, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad accepted President Donald Trump's nomination of him for the post of United States Ambassador to China.[3]

On May 22, 2017 the United States Senate approved and confirmed Terry Branstad, former Governor of Iowa, as the U.S. Ambassador to China.[4] He was sworn in on May 24, 2017.


Representation is as follows (years refer to dates of actual service):

Qing Empire:

Republic of China:

People's Republic of China

List of Envoys to the Qing Empire[edit]

Name Home State Appointed Terminated
Caleb Cushing Massachusetts May 8, 1843 August 27, 1844
Alexander Hill Everett Massachusetts March 13, 1845 June 28, 1847
John W. Davis Indiana January 3, 1848 May 25, 1850
Humphrey Marshall Kentucky August 4, 1852 January 27, 1854
Robert Milligan McLane Maryland October 18, 1853 December 12, 1854
Peter Parker Massachusetts August 16, 1855 August 25, 1857
William B. Reed Pennsylvania April 18, 1857 November 11, 1858
John E. Ward Georgia December 15, 1858 December 15, 1860
Anson Burlingame Massachusetts June 14, 1861 November 21, 1867
John Ross Browne California March 11, 1868 July 5, 1869
Frederick F. Low California September 28, 1869 July 24, 1873
Benjamin Avery California April 10, 1874 November 8, 1875
George Seward California January 7, 1876 August 16, 1880
James Burrill Angell Michigan April 9, 1880 October 4, 1881
John Russell Young New York March 15, 1882 April 7, 1885
Charles Harvey Denby Indiana May 29, 1885 July 8, 1898
Edwin H. Conger Iowa July 8, 1898 April 4, 1905
William Woodville Rockhill District of Columbia March 8, 1905 June 1, 1909
William James Calhoun Illinois December 21, 1909 February 16, 1913[5]

List of Envoys to the Republic of China[edit]

Name Home State Appointed Terminated
Paul Reinsch Wisconsin August 15, 1913 September 15, 1919
Charles R. Crane Illinois March 22, 1920 July 2, 1921
Jacob Gould Schurman New York June 2, 1921 April 15, 1925
John Van Antwerp MacMurray New Jersey April 9, 1925 November 22, 1929[6]

List of Ambassadors to the Republic of China[edit]

Name Portrait Home State Appointed Terminated
Nelson T. Johnson Nelson T. Johnson cph.3c35451.jpg Oklahoma December 16, 1929 May 14, 1941
Clarence E. Gauss Connecticut February 11, 1941 November 14, 1944
Patrick J. Hurley PJayHurl.jpg Oklahoma November 30, 1944 September 22, 1945
John Leighton Stuart John Leighton Stuart1948.jpg Zhejiang Province July 12, 1946 August 2, 1949

The Communists took the Nationalist capital of Nanjing in April 1949, but Stuart was not recalled from China until August 1949. The United States did not recognize the new government of the People's Republic of China upon its founding in October 1949. The Consulate in Taipei was upgraded to an embassy in 1953, and therefore the Ambassador to China maintained residence at Taipei, Taiwan, in the Republic of China until relations were severed in 1979. (See: Former American Consulate in Taipei)

Name Portrait Home State Appointed Terminated
Karl L. Rankin American Ambassador Karl Rankin 藍欽大使.jpg Maine February 27, 1953 December 30, 1957
Everett Drumright Ambassador Everett Drumright 莊萊德大使.jpg Oklahoma February 17, 1958 March 8, 1962
Alan G. Kirk Rear Admiral Alan G. Kirk (cropped).jpg New York June 7, 1962 January 18, 1963
Jerauld Wright U.S. Ambassador Jerauld Wright 美國大使賴特.jpg District of Columbia May 3, 1963 July 25, 1965
Walter McConaughy U.S. Ambassador Walter P. McConaughy 美國大使馬康衛.jpg Alabama June 16, 1966 April 4, 1974
Leonard S. Unger Leonard S. Unger.jpg Maryland March 14, 1974 January 19, 1979

For a list of de facto U.S. Ambassadors to Taiwan since 1979, see list of AIT Directors at American Institute in Taiwan.

List of chiefs of the U.S. Liaison Office in Beijing[edit]

Between May 1973 and March 1979 prior to the official establishment of diplomatic relations, the United States dispatched a head of U.S. Liaison Office in Peking (now Beijing).

Name Portrait Home State Appointed Terminated
David K. E. Bruce Virginia March 15, 1973 September 25, 1974
George H. W. Bush RV1980.png Texas September 26, 1974 December 7, 1975
Thomas S. Gates, Jr. Thomas S Gates Jr..jpg Pennsylvania April 14, 1976 May 8, 1977
Leonard Woodcock Leonard F. Woodcock.jpg Michigan July 11, 1977 March 1, 1979[7]

List of Ambassadors to the People's Republic of China[edit]

The United States established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, and terminated them with the Republic of China, on January 1, 1979. The American Embassy at Taipei closed February 28, 1979, while the American Liaison Office at Beijing was redesignated the American Embassy on March 1, 1979.

Name Portrait Home State Appointed Terminated
Leonard Woodcock Leonard F. Woodcock.jpg Michigan February 27, 1979 February 13, 1981
Arthur W. Hummel, Jr. Arthur W Hummel Jr.jpg Maryland July 30, 1981 September 24, 1985
Winston Lord Winston Lord.jpg New York November 6, 1985 April 23, 1989
James Lilley James Roderick Lilley.jpg Maryland April 20, 1989 May 10, 1991
J. Stapleton Roy Roy Stapleton.jpg Pennsylvania July 2, 1991 June 17, 1995
Jim Sasser Jim sasser.jpg Tennessee February 14, 1996 July 1, 1999
Joseph Prueher Joseph Prueher cropped from USS George H.W. Bush's Battle of Midway ceremony 120604-N-XE109-073.jpg Tennessee November 16, 1999 May 1, 2001
Clark T. Randt, Jr. Clark T Randt Jr.jpg Connecticut July 12, 2001 January 20, 2009
Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. Ambassador Jon Huntsman.jpg Utah August 11, 2009 April 30, 2011
Gary Locke Gary Locke official portrait.jpg Washington August 1, 2011 February 21, 2014
Max Baucus Portrait of Ambassador Max Baucus.jpg Montana March 20, 2014 January 20, 2017
Terry Branstad Terry Branstad by Gage Skidmore.jpg Iowa TBD Incumbent


  1. ^ "Branstad resigns governorship, takes office as U.S. Ambassador to China". Des Moines Register. Des Moines. May 24, 2017. Retrieved May 24, 2017. 
  2. ^ http://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/max-baucus-ambassador-china-101300.html
  3. ^ Jacobs, Jennifer (December 6, 2016). "Trump Picks Iowa Governor Branstad as China Ambassador". Bloomberg News. New York. Retrieved December 7, 2016. 
  4. ^ Noble, Jason (May 22, 2017). "Terry Branstad confirmed as U.S. ambassador to China". Des Moines Register. Des Moines. Retrieved May 22, 2017. 
  5. ^ Diplomatic relations with China interrupted on February 12, 1912 upon the abdication of Puyi.
  6. ^ Diplomatic relations with Beijing's Beiyang government terminated and recognition given to Nanjing's National Government on October 1, 1928.
  7. ^ Upon normalization of diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, Leonard Woodcock was promoted from Liaison to Ambassador in the new Embassy.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]